CREATING a new 60-bedroom hotel at Kendal's Westmorland Shopping Centre and refurbishing the "dated" mall itself could boost spending in the town by more than £5 million per year, planners have been told.

As reported by the Gazette last December, the shopping centre's owners have ambitious plans to boost the vibrancy of Kendal's evening and late-night economy by opening a "high-quality" hotel with restaurant and bar on Stricklandgate.

The Mayfair-based property investor, Praxis, is now seeking planning consent from South Lakeland District Council for the 60-bed venue "in the heart of Kendal", which could create 24 full-time jobs.

The hotel's guests alone would bring more than £2 million into the local economy, according to plans prepared by Windermere consultants Hough Tullett, as well as attracting new business through "cascade spending".

The accommodation would be created from the mall's under-used shop storage level, with a new storey built on top from folded, powder-coated aluminium, with a fibreglass roof and a "green wall" of living foliage.

The project is estimated to take 12 months and would be built in a "matchstick/Meccano/piecemeal manner", state the plans, using "dry" construction methods to minimise dust. Shops would stay open as normal during the build.

The new top floor would be clustered around the shopping centre's glass atrium "to bring a sense of modernity and grandeur when viewed from the shopping mall", state the plans. High-quality architecture would "remove the sense of "datedness" inherent in the Westmorland Shopping Centre"; and storage-levels windows that are currently "blacked out" and "lifeless" would become "animated and lit" when the hotel opened.

Powder-coated aluminium strips used to clad the building would be "non-combustible", to comply with "best fire engineering practice" and to incorporate "the likely learning points from the Grenfell Tower disaster".

The multi-story car park's opening times would increase to 24 hours, seven days a week. Praxis, which owns the 660-space car park, would lease back 50 spaces purely for hotel guests.

Clients would enter the hotel from an entrance set between Blackhall Yard and the car park. Minor changes would also be made to the public entrances off Stricklandgate and the Market Place.

Praxis bought the Westmorland Shopping Centre out of a two-year administration for just over £7 million in September 2017.

According to planning documents, the 1980s-built mall "had experienced many years of underinvestment with many retail units vacant".

As reported by the Gazette last year, a report produced by students of Lancaster University's Management School concluded: "Kendal's perceived poor evening economy is an unfortunate reality. The town faces a simple yet complex problem: how to attract more people to come into the town of an evening?"

Shopping centre owner Praxis says it is "committed to making substantive investment" in the mall by "increasing daytime and evening leisure experiences and developing a late-night economy for Kendal".

It says this will "reinforce" the vibrancy of the town centre and counteract "the loss of K Village", the "out-of-centre lure of the new Sainsburys" on Shap Road, and consumers' preference for online shopping.